Sway disaster... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-19-2015, 10:04 PM   #1
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Sway disaster...

I witness today the results of not understanding towing dynamics. It appeared, as with many things. there was more than one mistake made. The story... In front of me was a truck pulling a trailer with what looked like a rescued from pasture Willies Jeep on the trailer, sitting a bit towards the back. I was going somewhere between 55 and 60 mph when he passed me and the car directly in front of me. As we started down a small hill the trailer started to sway a bit, brake lights came on, the off. I knew at that point what the out come would be. The sway got worse, as expected, the driver applied hard brakes. The sway increased until the rear of pickup was yanked off the ground. The trailer then drug the pickup sideways and the trailer went into the ditch. The trailer rolled over with the jeep and ended up on top of the jeep. The pickup stayed upright but the rear wheels were about 3 ft off the ground and it was still attached to the trailer. I felt it was very fortunate that the pickup stayed upright. The driver was shaken but ok.
What went wrong?
It appeared that there was too little tongue weight. There was too much speed, and the driver had no knowledge of how to get out of a sway condition. There was no adverse road conditions, it was clear sunny day, with dry pavement.

My guess is those three things are the biggest cause of sway crashes.
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:19 PM   #2
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:57 PM   #3
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Scary.
Byron (or anyone else) can you just give us a reminder again of what is the right thing to do if you experience sway?
Apart from checking you have a good tongue weight, driving at appropriate speed etc.
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Old 04-20-2015, 12:13 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kootenaigirl View Post
Scary.
Byron (or anyone else) can you just give us a reminder again of what is the right thing to do if you experience sway?
Apart from checking you have a good tongue weight, driving at appropriate speed etc.

To stop and/or control sway once it starts, first there's some lever or switch on the brake controller that will allow you to just apply braking power to the trailer. That's the first step. No tow vehicle brakes, just trailer brakes. That will usually take care of it. If you don't have trailer brakes accelerate to get the trailer behind you then slow down. This can be tricky, depending on the road conditions, such as curves stop signs, traffic, etc. The more room you have the easier this is to accomplish.

I can emphasize strong enough to have brakes on your trailer with a good controller.
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Old 04-20-2015, 09:36 AM   #5
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Thanks Byron, I needed the refresher just in case it ever happens.
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Old 04-20-2015, 09:50 AM   #6
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Trailer. Brakes, Priceless in a situation like this.
My guess is that "Skeeter" was to busy listing to the radio turned up to ear splitting volume, a pinch of Skol Bandent tucked between his gum and upper lip and his ball cap turned around backwards.
"Skeeter" is our pet name for this type of person.
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Old 04-20-2015, 09:53 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
Trailer. Brakes, Priceless in a situation like this.
My guess is that "Skeeter" was to busy listing to the radio turned up to ear splitting volume, a pinch of Skol Bandent tucked between his gum and upper lip and his ball cap turned around backwards.
"Skeeter" is our pet name for this type of person.
And now he has a load in his pants Raz
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:08 PM   #8
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Goes to show......

The connection hardware and set up is so important yet so few folks get it.

We always hear the terms....
" been working great for years, must be OK",
or "feels like there is nothing behind me",
or "its less than 2,000lbs, I don't need anything but a ball mount",
or " tows great, I don't need sway control".

Point is.... when one discovers that what they have is inadequate it is too late.
Not
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:35 PM   #9
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Sounds like the trailer did not have operative electric or surge brakes brakes as well as improper loading.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:00 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MC1 View Post
The connection hardware and set up is so important yet so few folks get it.

We always hear the terms....
" been working great for years, must be OK",
or "feels like there is nothing behind me",
or "its less than 2,000lbs, I don't need anything but a ball mount",
or " tows great, I don't need sway control".

Point is.... when one discovers that what they have is inadequate it is too late.
Not
Some "safety devices" can create problems where none exist. I believe anti-sway bars are one of those. If you feel you need an anti-sway bar you probably have problems that need to be corrected.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:12 PM   #11
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There seems to be a some humor through the thread. You say he was towing with a truck, maybe if he had a CRV he would have been OK. Just kidding.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:17 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Some "safety devices" can create problems where none exist. I believe anti-sway bars are one of those. If you feel you need an anti-sway bar you probably have problems that need to be corrected.
I'm an anti-sway bar user. I have towed our fiberglass trailer's with and without an anti-sway bar and never had a sway issue. If I had a sway issue for only God knows what reason, the anti-sway bar might slow the process down.

I have one because like an insurance I might be glad to have it in an unknown but possible event. It cost virtually nothing, requires virtually no maintenance and is easy to use.

I agree it should not be used to solve a regular sway problem.
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Old 04-20-2015, 04:35 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darwin Maring View Post
My guess is that "Skeeter" was to busy listing to the radio turned up to ear splitting volume, a pinch of Skol Bandent tucked between his gum and upper lip and his ball cap turned around backwards.
"Skeeter" is our pet name for this type of person.
Yep. Driving out of control for the load he was towing endangering everyone else on the road. Just like the majority of 18 wheel drivers who seem to think that the interstate speed limits are for non-commercial drivers because they obviously can stop their 80,000 pound loads on a dime, even when going 10 or 15 mph over the limit or on wet, slick roads. Sorry, my pet peeve. Skeeter is the poster child for all the irresponsible idiots who for some reason were granted licenses to operate a motor vehicle.
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Old 04-20-2015, 05:17 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
Some "safety devices" can create problems where none exist. I believe anti-sway bars are one of those. If you feel you need an anti-sway bar you probably have problems that need to be corrected.
My 2003 Odyssey Owner's Manual states that anti-sway control is required by Honda when towing any trailer over 2000 lbs.
However, after 12 years of study and experience I tend to agree with Byron on this issue.

Did you know that you are not supposed to use a friction anti-sway bar in the rain? It is in the printed instructions for the device.

I have an anti-sway bar on the Fiber Stream. While I connect it at both ends, I leave the tightening lever in the middle loose. That way I can pull over and tighten it where there is high cross-wind and loosen it when the winds dissipate. This is the only situation where I feel it helps me. YMMV.
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